"A knife was seen embedded in Sayagi's shoulder"
A mother has admitted stabbing her daughter to death at their home in Mitcham, South London.
Sutha Sivanantham knifed five-year-old Sayagi 15 times in June 2020 before turning the blade on herself.
The Old Bailey heard that Sutha had been living in the UK since 2006 after an arranged marriage with her husband.
In the autumn of 2019, Sutha started to complain of mysterious pains and went to A&E several times.
By the summer of 2020, she complained of dizziness and her weight plummeted to just seven and a half stone.
Prosecutor Bill Emlyn-Jones said:
“The defendant had developed a morbid concern she was suffering from an undiagnosed serious illness.
“She appears to have become convinced that she was going to die.”
Hospital tests revealed Sutha had contracted Covid-19 at some point.
Mr Emlyn-Jones continued:
“The night before the incident, she had specifically asked her husband if he would take care of the children in the event of her death.
“On the morning of 30th June 2020, she asked her husband not to go to work, but he explained that he had to go, leaving the defendant at home.”
During the day, Sutha called her friends to complain about her health but they were not concerned.
At around 4 pm, neighbours heard screaming and rushed to the flat. They found a “bloodbath”.
Mr Emlyn-Jones said: “They found the defendant on the floor, with a serious stab wound to her abdomen.
“Sayagi, who was lying on the bed, had been stabbed several times in the neck, chest and abdomen.
“A knife was seen embedded in Sayagi’s shoulder, which fell out when she was moved to be treated on the instructions of the 999 operator.”
The pair were rushed to hospital but Sayagi was later pronounced dead.
Mr Emlyn-Jones said: “The defendant told the doctor she had been worried what would happen to her child if anything happened to her and thought her daughter would not be able to live without her.
“She also said that on the day of the murder she had felt as if she was asleep and dreaming; she had known she was hurting herself ‘but I didn’t realise I was hurting her’.
On September 11, 2020, the mother was charged and two letters were seized.
“In one of these, she again asks for forgiveness and says she still doesn’t ‘know what happened to me on that day’.”
One psychiatrist said that the social isolation and stress caused by Covid-19 contributed to Sutha’s serious mental illness.
Another psychiatrist, Dr Nigel Blackwood, said:
“At the time of the alleged offences, Ms Sivanantham’s mental state appears to have been dominated by hypochondriacal delusional beliefs and was thus abnormal.
“Her behaviour and decision-making were strongly influenced by the content of her psychotic belief.
“However, in my view she likely knew the fundamental nature and quality of her actions at the time of the assault (that is, she was aware that she was engaged in assaultative acts likely to inflict a serious injury on another), and knew that what she was doing was wrong.”
Following the incident, Sutha has been left with a colostomy bag.
Her husband, Suganthan, said fear of the virus and lockdown restrictions pushed her over the edge.
“I believe Covid restrictions may have had a negative effect on her wellbeing.”
“She took the restrictions seriously and was petrified about catching the virus.”
The mother denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Her plea was accepted.
Judge Wendy Joseph said it was a “terrible tragedy”.
She said: “What is clear is that the ongoing mental illness was not fully appreciated by anyone around her, including her doctors.
“She developed a morbid concern that she was seriously ill and became convinced she was going to die.
“She was due to have further hospital tests the next day and was clearly depressed, possibly about what would be found.
“She went to the bedroom for a lie down. She took Sayagi with her. She also took two knives.”
Judge Joseph said the lockdown may have contributed to the mother’s illness.
“Information from both her GP and St George’s Hospital suggest she had over a period of months following the imposition of lockdown, complained of a range of symptoms beyond those of which she had previously.
“The symptoms included cough, cold, loss of sense of smell, chest pains, dizziness and extreme fatigue.
“As her physical health deteriorated, so did her mental health.”
Sutha received a hospital order under sections 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act.
It will up to the doctors to decide when she should be released.